Karunaratne, Bulitavo case gets new magistrate
Chief Magistrate Usaia Ratuvili yesterday disqualified himself in the sedition-related case of Jagath Karunaratne and Member of Parliament Mosese Bulitavo sedition related case because of a conflict of interest.
Chief Magistrate Ratuvili said he had a close relationship with the late Reverend Manasa Lasaro, who was named as a player in the trial by prosecution witness, Eroni Takape. The prosecution had submitted that Chief Magistrate Ratuvili could not continue to preside over this case when evidence will be heard relating to the involvement of the late Reverend Lasaro in the event around the offending.
The matter has now been transferred to Magistrate Shageeth Somaratne. “If however the accused are happy for Magistrate Somaratne to rely on the records so far then that is for him to decide based on his discretion,” Chief Magistrate Ratuvili said. “I hereby recuse myself and order a trial de novo before RM Somaratne who shall take over the proceedings.” Karunaratne and Bulitavo are charged with spreading seditious comments in public in 2011. The case has been adjourned to December 30. JESSICA GOUNDER Edited by Rusiate Mataika